A new sugar cancer test is capable of detecting the deadly disease by imaging the consumption of sugar with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
UCL scientists developed the sugar cancer test which they say provides a safer and simpler alternative to radioactive techniques that are commonly used by radiologists.
The new test is scientifically known as “glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer” (glucoCEST).
The sugar cancer test is based on the idea that tumors consume far more glucose (a kind of sugar) than normal healthy tissues. The tumors need the glucose to continue their growth.
Researchers discovered that they could sensitize an MRI scanner to search for glucose uptake. After playing around with the MRI machine, researchers found bright tumor images on MRI scans of mice.
According to lead researcher Dr Simon Walker-Samuel from the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI):
“GlucoCEST uses radio waves to magnetically label glucose in the body. This can then be detected in tumours using conventional MRI techniques. The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumours, which require the injection of radioactive material.”
The test is so well refined that researchers only need the same amount of sugar found in half a standard sized chocolate bar.
With MRI machines located in many large hospitals, there is a good chance that in the future patients will not need to be referred to expensive specialists for cancer detection purposes.
Scientists are now conducting human trials to determine if the sugar cancer test is just as effective in humans as it is in mice.
The full study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Do you like the idea of a less invasive form of cancer detection? Would you trust your life to a simple sugar cancer test?